Boyle's Buffs Top Coyotes In Season Opener
MANHATTAN, Kan. — Tad Boyle's Colorado Buffaloes started their 2020-21 season Wednesday with an 84-61 win over South Dakota in their first game of the Little Apple Classic.
The Buffs had a 14-point lead at the break, 45-31, and then used an 11-0 run early in the second half to bump their margin to 24 points, 60-36. From that point, the Buffs held the Coyotes at bay the rest of the game. The runs were due in large part to strong guard play from McKinley Wright IV and Eli Parquet.
"Our guards made some really good plays defensively," Boyle said. "McKinley got going in transition and hit a three and Eli had a blocked shot and then went down and hit a three. We got the momentum in our favor."
Wright led the Buffs in scoring with 20 points. Dallas Walton and Keeshawn Barthelemy led CU in rebounding with seven each.
Colorado also had solid production from its bench, which finished with 32 points. Barthelemy and Jeriah Horne each had 11 points and Jabari Walker finished with 10.
Senior Stanley Umude led the Coyotes with 24 points.
HOW IT HAPPENED: The Buffaloes built a 20-point lead late in the first half, only to see the margin quickly shrink to 14 thanks to a 6-0 Coyote run to end the half. After exchanging baskets in the opening moments of the second half, the Buff's broke open and went on an 11-0 run to get out to a 24 point lead.
Colorado had balanced production, with four players in double figures, and CU had just eight turnovers and 20 assists.
"The most important thing in those numbers are the turnovers." Boyle said. "That starts with making good decisions and taking care of the ball, and I thought that was very good."
Wright had 16 first half points to lead the Buffaloes at the break. In the second half, the Buffs improved their 3-point shooting to 46.2 percent but Boyle still thinks there is room for improvement.
"We had some guys not shooting the ball well from three tonight that are very capable shooters." Boyle said. "We'll take shooting 40%, but with that being said, we missed some really good looks too."
Colorado's defense stifled the Coyote offense and did not allow them to get into any rhythm. The Buffs forced 13 turnovers and had the South Dakota offense shooting at just 33% from the field.
"We were trying to win each half," Walton said. "Putting two halves together is a big thing for us and it's something that we struggled with last year. We wanted to make sure we were able to defend and keep our foot on the pedal."
Horne had 11 straight second half points, including three consecutive 3-pointers to help the Buffs extend their lead to 25 points, their largest of the game.
"He's a veteran on the team that a lot of younger guys look to," Walton said. "We all know what he is capable of and he had a great game for us today. I'm really pleased with Jeriah's play. I think he's going to be a big piece for us this year."
Colorado's bench outscored South Dakota's 32-11, led by double figure scoring from Walker and Barthelemy. Several other freshmen got quality minutes as well and were able to make solid contributions.
"They were ready to go." Wright said. "They want to compete at a high level and I love playing with all of them. They look forward to learning. They look up to me and I just want to do my job to help them anyway I can."
TURNING POINT: The Buff's began the night with cold shooting from three, going 1-for-9 from behind the line. That was before Wright began to heat up and drained one from deep with 6:11 left in the first half on his way to 16 first half points.
KEY STATISTICS: The Buffs had 20 assists and just eight turnovers.
SCHWARTZ SITS OUT: Senior guard D'Shawn Schwartz was out Wednesday night due to possible exposure to COVID-19. His status for Friday is still up in the air, and Boyle said the Buffs hope to know more Thursday.
NEXT UP: The Buffs will be off Thursday before returning to action Friday with a 6:30 p.m. matchup against Kansas State in Manhattan (ESPNU). The Wildcats fell to Drake, 80-70, in the first game of the classic.